cover image Shira & Esther’s Double Dream Debut

Shira & Esther’s Double Dream Debut

Anna E. Jordan. Chronicle, $17.99 (332p) ISBN 978-1-79721-565-5

Two Jewish girls trade places for a shot at pursuing their ambitions in this sprightly three-act tale of found family and effort rewarded. Esther Rosenbaum longs to learn Hebrew and “raise my voice to God.... On the bima,” but her single mother, Yiddish theater sensation Red Hot Fanny, pressures her to join the biz and audition for a televised talent showcase. Shira Epstein was born for the stage, but her rabbi father, a widower, insists that she focus on her Torah studies in preparation for her bat mitzvah. After a chance encounter, the girls—realizing their uncanny resemblance—swap roles to chase their crisscrossed dreams. Mishegas ensues, relayed in the whimsical style of a Yiddish folktale by an omniscient narrator who addresses the reader, in italicized Yiddish, as “mayne kinder.” The well-choreographed action unfolds in the fictional town of Idylldale, an amalgam of Manhattan’s Lower East Side and a Catskills-like resort of yore. Making her middle grade debut, Jordan (This Pup Steps Up!) juxtaposes Shira’s and Esther’s yearnings for performance and prayer, showing that there are infinite ways to be Jewish—all valid. Whether they know a bisl or bupkes about the religious tradition and culture, readers will love this sparkling intergenerational ode to chutzpah and Jewish joy. A Yiddish glossary concludes. Ages 8–12. Agent: Janine Le, Janine Le Literary. (Oct.)